1 And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never before been sad when the king was present.
2 And the king said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing that you are not ill? this is nothing but sorrow of heart. Then I was full of fear;
3 And said to the king, May the king be living for ever: is it not natural for my face to be sad, when the town, the place where the bodies of my fathers are at rest, has been made waste and its doorways burned with fire?
4 Then the king said to me, What is your desire? So I made prayer to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king, If it is the king’s pleasure, and if your servant has your approval, send me to Judah, to the town where the bodies of my fathers are at rest, so that I may take in hand the building of it.
6 And the king said to me (the queen being seated by his side), How long will your journey take, and when will you come back? So the king was pleased to send me, and I gave him a fixed time.
7 Further, I said to the king, If it is the king’s pleasure, let letters be given to me for the rulers across the river, so that they may let me go through till I come to Judah;
8 And a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s park, so that he may give me wood to make boards for the doors of the tower of the house, and for the wall of the town, and for the house which is to be mine. And the king gave me this, for the hand of my God was on me.
9 Then I came to the rulers of the lands across the river and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen.
10 And Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, hearing of it, were greatly troubled because a man had come to the help of the children of Israel.
11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.
12 And in the night I got up, taking with me a small band of men; I said nothing to any man of what God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem: and I had no beast with me but the one on which I was seated.
13 And I went out by night, through the doorway of the valley, and past the dragon’s water-spring as far as the place where waste material was put, viewing the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down, and the doorways which had been burned with fire.
14 Then I went on to the door of the fountain and to the king’s pool: but there was no room for my beast to get through.
15 Then in the night, I went up by the stream, viewing the wall; then turning back, I went in by the door in the valley, and so came back.
16 And the chiefs had no knowledge of where I had been or what I was doing; and I had not then said anything to the Jews or to the priests or the great ones or the chiefs or the rest of those who were doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, You see what a bad condition we are in; how Jerusalem is a waste, and its doorways burned with fire: come, let us get to work, building up the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer be put to shame.
18 Then I gave them an account of how the hand of my God was on me, helping me; and of the king’s words which he had said to me. And they said, Let us get to work on the building. So they made their hands strong for the good work.
19 But Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, hearing of it, made sport of us, laughing at us and saying, What are you doing? will you go against the king?
20 Then answering them I said, The God of heaven, he will be our help; so we his servants will go on with our building: but you have no part or right or any name in Jerusalem.